Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS) is analyzing wake turbulence caused by arriving aircraft at Dubai International Airport using a Lockheed Martin light detection and ranging (Lidar) system. Lockheed Martin recently announced that it has completed commissioning of a third "WindTracer" system in collaboration with Bayanat Airports Engineering & Supplies, a UAE engineering firm.
WindTracer sends out pulses of infrared laser light that reflect off naturally occurring particulates in the wind, explains Lockheed Martin, which installed the first two units in 2013. "The movement of these aerosols alters the frequency of the light that is reflected back to the sensor. By processing the return signal, the system is able to detect radial wind speed and direction," the company said. The system's maximum range is 33 km (20.5 miles).
DANS, Dubai's air navigation services provider (Ansp), is using the system to measure the strength and behavior of wake vortices caused by arriving aircraft at Dubai International, which lays claim to being the world's busiest terminal for international passengers. The Ansp will use wake measurements to prove new concepts for reducing aircraft separations during arrivals, thereby increasing the airport's throughput.
Earlier this month, DANS became the first Ansp within the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to sign a cooperation agreement with Eurocontrol. One of the first joint efforts the two organizations will pursue is research into wake vortex concepts. At the time of the announcement, DANS said it had compiled a database of 160,000 tracks showing wake vortex behavior over the past 18 months.
"We are pleased that all three Lidars are now fully operational and are being used by DANS to address capacity and safety improvements," said Ibrahim Ahli, DANS senior vice president. "With the rise of demand for air travel and the forecasted future growth, we are continuously striving to implement innovative solutions to keep our skies safe and our operations efficient."
NetJets is poised to become the first U.S. fractional aircraft operator to implement a Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program. Its FOQA initiative is the result of a recently reached agreement with pilots' union NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) and will cover the company's Signature Series aircraft that entered the fleet over the last several years.
"Our top priority is the safety of our customers and our crewmembers," said NetJets COO Bill Noe. "We have already reached the highest level of the FAA's safety management system, and implementing FOQA now takes our commitment to safety to the highest level possible."
FOQA is an FAA-approved voluntary program designed to improve safety by using flight recorder data, which is downloaded and analyzed. NetJets said the results will be used to "enrich training programs, improve maintenance and create greater efficiency and operating procedures."
"A good example of the value of FOQA is analyzing the risks associated with runway overrun on landing," said Noe. "The way to reduce that risk is to ensure the aircraft touches down at the right speed and at the right point on the runway. FOQA captures this data, which is then aggregated.
"The information is shared with our pilots, both through periodic communication to show changes in trends and also targeted focus in training events in a simulator. Over time, the emphasis increases consistent aircraft landings to improve safe operations."
NetJets said it is the only fractional provider to be certified in "active conformance" with the FAA's Safety Management System Voluntary Program (SMSVP), the highest level in safety management. SMSVP requires the certificate holder to use and continually improve its safety management processes, the company said.
Business jet deliveries at Textron Aviation division Cessna Aircraft climbed to 159 Citations last year, a 12-percent increase over 2013, while shipments of King Air turboprops at the Beechcraft unit landed at 113. It is difficult to determine how King Air deliveries compare with the previous year, since the 135 handovers reported to GAMA for 2013 also include those between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, 2014. Textron also acquired Beechcraft in March, complicating matters further.
Thanks to the Beechcraft acquisition, higher volumes and favorable mix, revenues at Textron Aviation soared last year by nearly $2 billion, to $4.57 billion, while profits swung to $234 million versus a $48 million loss in 2013.
Backlog at Textron Aviation at the end of the fourth quarter was $1.4 billion, relatively flat compared with the end of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, deliveries, revenues and profits at sister company Bell Helicopter were all down last year. Bell shipped 57 civil helicopters in 2014, compared with 75 units in 2013. Revenues at Bell dipped by $266 million, to $4.25 billion, while year-over-year profits slid by $44 million to a still-respectable $529 million. Bell backlog ended 2014 at $5.5 billion, up $192 million from late September.
The government of Malaysia on Thursday formally declared the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident as defined by Annexes 12 and 13 of the Chicago Convention, clearing the way for next of kin to pursue compensation for the deaths of the 239 passengers and crewmembers.
Speaking in Kuala Lumpur during a Thursday afternoon briefing, Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman declared all the airplane's occupants presumed lost.
"Without in any way intending to diminish the feelings of the families, it is hoped that this declaration will enable the families to obtain the assistance they need, in particular through the compensation process," he said.
Rahman also insisted that the search for MH370 remains a priority, and that the government of Malaysia would continue "reasonable efforts to bring closure to this unfortunate tragedy."
Four vessels continue the underwater search in the remote area of the Indian Ocean where the Boeing 777-200 presumably went down on March 8. Do date the search has covered more than 7,180 square miles.